Do you know how to listen to God’s voice and welcome the Lord?
Editor’s note: In daily life, we are often jealous of people who are better than us and even may dislike and contend with them. The author of this article once lived in jealousy because her classmate was superior to her. She felt extremely miserable and was desperate to free herself from such misery. Now she has successfully emerged from the mire of jealousy. How has she achieved that? This article will tell you.
Xue is my classmate. We were equally excellent in study and got along well with each other. However, after the middle school entrance examination, Xue entered the honors class while I just got into a regular one. When I learned this, I felt a little unbalanced inside and thought, “Our academic performances are comparable, but how come she could test into the honors class while I just entered into a regular one?” But when it occurred to me that I didn’t work hard for the examination, I reconciled myself to this fact, and reluctantly congratulated her. But I was unaware that the spark of jealousy had flared quietly in my heart.
After the new school year began, Xue often came to my class playing with us, her old classmates, and she was always talking about how good the honors class was and how excellent her classmates were. Each time I heard her say this, I would feel very uncomfortable, thinking that she was deliberately showing off. Once, I came across Xue in the washroom, who, however, acted like she didn’t see me, and walked away talking and laughing with her classmates. Seeing this made me really angry and I thought, “You just get into the honors class. What is there to be proud of? I’m no worse than you!” Since then, I began to study hard and my grades were always among the best in my class. My classmates all admired and revolved around me, which gave me a little comfort. But I never imagined that Xue was also making progress, leaving me far behind in almost every examination. Though irritated, I had no choice but to accept the fact, which made me very miserable. Yet, somehow, whenever I saw the humble look she wore when someone extolled her, I felt very disgusted, thinking that she was really pretentious.
In my second year in middle school, I also got into the honors class. Again in the same class with Xue, I felt both happy and nervous, and immediately threw myself into a “battle” with her. In order to surpass her, I buried myself in study and often stayed up late studying after school. Seeing Xue mix well with our classmates, I, even though not good at communicating, forced myself to curry favor with them in order to outshine her. However, after a period of time, my “effort” didn’t change anything. Xue was still ahead of me in study and our classmates were still gathering around her. Once, when the Chinese results came out, everyone applauded her for her good achievement. This sight made me really uncomfortable and I thought, “I also get a good grade, but just because you did a little better than me, no one cares about me. It’s you who stole the limelight from me!” The more I thought, the more I felt hatred of Xue, so much so that a malicious idea germinated in my mind—embarrassing her in front of the class! So, I spoke in a loud voice on purpose before our classmates, “Each time after the examination, you would say that you didn’t do well, yet at last you always got a good grade. Do you know? This will only make us feel more uncomfortable and humiliated.” As soon as I said this, the smile on her face froze and she looked very embarrassed. Seeing this, I felt a little uneasy in my heart, knowing that I had hurt her, but somehow I just couldn’t control myself. I just disliked her and wanted to embarrass her. Yet unexpectedly, my attack had no effect on her. She was still better than me and enjoyed the admiration and praise of our classmates. This made me even more distressed and fueled my grudges against her.
When I was immersed in agony, unable to extricate myself, I came across a passage of God’s words, which say, “Some people are always afraid that others will steal the limelight and surpass them, and that others will obtain recognition while they themselves are neglected, and so they spurn and exclude other people. Is this not them being jealous of people more capable than themselves? Is this behavior not selfish and contemptible? What kind of disposition is this? It is malicious!” (“You Can Obtain Truth After Turning Your True Heart Over to God” in Records of Christ’s Talks). And then I also saw this passage from Sermons and Fellowship, “So are those who are jealous of others narrow-minded people? … Are there any benefits to being narrow-minded and jealous? There isn’t a single benefit. They are petty, narrow-minded, and vicious, and people see them as a joke. They’re not worthy of living. Narrow-mindedness is not good, and that is a fact. … When you have normal humanity, you will be able to live happy, carefree, and easy. A narrow-minded person lives constantly in pain and exhaustion.”
God’s words and the sermon awakened me all of a sudden. Through contemplation and reflection, I came to realize that, it was all because of my jealousy of Xue that I felt unhappy when seeing her stand out and always competed with her. I recalled how, when I saw Xue was admitted into a class better than mine, surpassed me in study and gained others’ praise and favor, I felt jealous and upset and then secretly competed against her. I even developed great prejudices against her with the result that I looked at whatever she said or did with bias and failed to get along well with her. Living in jealousy every day made me more and more narrow-minded. When I still failed to surpass her no matter how hard I struggled, I even fostered malice against her, deliberately speaking something that embarrassed her before the class to vent my resentment. Wasn’t this an expression of viciousness? The more I thought of what I had done, the more ashamed I felt.
Then I thought of another passage of God’s words, “Every detail of your daily life relates to the testimony to God. If you can win the admiration of your brothers and sisters, your family members, and everyone around you; if, one day, the unbelievers come, and admire all that you do, and see that all that God does is wonderful, then you will have borne testimony.” God requires us to practice the truth in everything, big or small, that happens in our daily life, and to manifest and glorify God with our practical deeds. But what I did not only couldn’t win the admiration of people around me, but instead brought harm to others. Wasn’t it a sign of shame to God? At this thought, I felt very indebted, and so I came before God and prayed, “O God, I’m so deeply corrupted by Satan that all I did was full of satanic dispositions. Out of jealousy I competed with Xue both openly and covertly, which not only exhausted myself but also brought shame to You. O God, I am bound by jealousy so tightly and unable to break free from it by myself. God, I want to put it aside. Please guide and help me.” After the prayer, I felt much relieved within. I knew God had listened to my prayer and believed that He would lead me out of my incorrect condition.
One day when I went to the teacher’s office, my teacher held a pile of homework books and said to me, “These have been corrected. Take them to your classmates and give them detailed explanations.” Just when I was going to take the books, my teacher said out of the blue, “Well, forget it. Tell the class representative or Xue to come and take them at recess.” Hearing this, my mood immediately fell. “Didn’t you just ask me to take them?” I thought. “Why did you change your mind have Xue do it? Aren’t you thinking that she is better than me?” The more I thought this way, the angrier I got. “Just because Xue is better than me in study, the teacher no longer appreciates me,” I thought. “No. I’m not going to tell her. After all, the teacher also mentioned the class representative.” So I returned to the classroom and went straight to the class representative, who, however, happened to be out while Xue was near. Upon seeing her, the scene where my teacher handed over the books to me and then drew back her hand appeared in my mind, and I felt so uncomfortable that I didn’t want to inform her. I thought: “If I don’t tell Xue and so she doesn’t go to the office, will the teacher think that she doesn’t obey her words and thus no longer think highly of her then?” But it then occurred to me that I’m a believer in God and that God doesn’t like it if I act one way in front of people and then another way behind their backs. At that time, I was involved in a fierce internal struggle. After a while, because the class representative still didn’t come back, I had no choice but to inform Xue reluctantly.
At that time, I realized that I was in the wrong state, and so as soon as I got home after school, I prayed to God about my condition. Then I took out the book of God’s words and saw this passage, “as soon as it involves position, face, or reputation, everyone’s heart leaps in anticipation, and you always want to stand out, to be famous, to be glorified. … When you see someone stand out, you are jealous, feel hatred, complain, and feel it is unfair. ‘Why can’t I stand out? Why is it never me? Why is it always he who gets to stand out and it’s never my turn?’ There is some resentment. You try to repress the resentment, but you can’t, so you pray. After praying, you feel better for a little while, but later when you encounter the matter again you cannot overcome it. Is this not a case of immature stature? Is not a person’s falling into these conditions a trap? This is the bondage of a satanically corrupted nature. Think about it for a minute: If a person has cast off these corrupt dispositions, is he then free and liberated? Ponder this: What kind of changes must a person make if he wants to refrain from falling into these conditions and wants to be able to cast off these conditions and free himself of the vexations of these things? What must a person obtain before he can free himself of the vexations of these things, loosen the bonds of these things, and be able truly to be free and liberated? On one hand, a person must see through things: These fame and fortune and positions are tools and methods for Satan to corrupt people, to entrap them, to harm them, and to cause their degeneration. You must first see clearly this aspect in theory. … First, you must see through them, and then you must learn to give up these things and set them aside. If you are always focusing on these things, always struggling for these things, if your heart is fully occupied and filled by these things, if you never want to put them aside and you always harbor them without putting them aside, then you are being controlled by and bound by these things. You have become a slave, and you cannot give them up. You must learn to give up and set aside these things, to yield, to recommend others, to allow them to stand out. Do not struggle furiously and rush to take advantage as soon as you encounter an opportunity to stand out or obtain honor. … The more you give up and set aside, the more peaceful your heart will be and the more space will open up within it, and the more your condition will improve. The more you struggle and compete, the darker will be your condition; try it if you don’t believe it.”
After reading God’s words, I came to understand that it was due to my pursuit of reputation and status that I was always envious of Xue. Since childhood I had cared much about my image in others’ hearts. No matter in which group of people, I hoped to be in the limelight, and be praised and admired by them. When others were looked up to while I was neglected, I would feel distressed and even envy and hate them. I recalled before middle school when Xue and I were even in study and she didn’t threaten my status, I could treat her as my friend, but when she was better than me in every aspect and was praised and admired by both my teachers and classmates, I felt that I was left out in the cold and felt so unbalanced that I envied and hated her, thinking that I would never have my day so long as she was there. So I deliberately said something to attack and humiliate her before our classmates. Actually, I also felt very distressed and didn’t want to envy her, but when my desire for reputation and status went unsatisfied, I often couldn’t help competing with her and was unwilling to admit defeat. Struggling with this contradiction, I felt melancholy every day. I not only tortured myself but also brought harm to Xue.
Now through the revelation of God’s words, I finally saw clearly that all my pain was caused by Satan. Before, in a meeting I once heard the brothers and sisters said how Satan used reputation and status to bind and toy with us, caused us to fight with and kill each other in the whirlpool of reputation and interest and live in pain every day. At that time, I didn’t really understand what they said, but now through my own experiences, I truly appreciated that my life was so tiring because I had fallen into the trap of reputation and status set by Satan and was fooled by it. Satan is really so wicked.
Having seen through Satan’s schemes, I understoodand found a way to practice: I should rely on God to give up reputation and status. When I encounter an opportunity to stand out or obtain honor, I should learn to give up these things and pay attention to drawing near to God within, and treat others in accordance with God’s words. This way, Satan will find less opportunity to work on me and I will gradually break free from the control of reputation and status and no longer envy others. Besides, I should also learn to see things from another perspective. Actually, a classmate who is superior to me can drive me forward and make up for my inadequacies. I should take her as my helper rather than my rival, and learn to absorb her strengths to make up for my weaknesses. This way, I believe, I will make quick progress. As I thought this way, my heart suddenly felt freed. I silently thanked and praised God for leading me to find the way to get rid of jealousy.
Later, once in a Chinese language class, Xue was commended by our teacher for her excellent answer to a question, after which there came a burst of praise from our classmates. Seeing how shining she was, I felt rather uncomfortable and thought, “Why didn’t the classmates cheer for me when I was praised by the teacher?” As I thought of this, my heart sank involuntarily. Then it struck me that I began to envy Xue again because of competing for position in others’ hearts. So I quickly quietened my heart before God and made a prayer, and then I thought of these words of God, “You must learn to give up and set aside these things, to yield, to recommend others, to allow them to stand out. … The more you give up and set aside, the more peaceful your heart will be and the more space will open up within it, and the more your condition will improve. The more you struggle and compete, the darker will be your condition; try it if you don’t believe it.” That’s right. I must learn to give up and set aside reputation and status. I cannot fall for Satan’s schemes and be fooled by it any longer. I’m a created being, and if I always pursue to be admired and praised by others and occupy a certain position in others’ hearts, I will be loathed by God just as the archangel that betrayed God. At this thought, I then prayed to God silently in my heart, asking Him to grant me strength to betray my flesh and expressing my desire to give up reputation and status and no longer be fooled by Satan. After my prayer, I felt very steady and relaxed in my heart and realized that it was God comforting me.
After that, I adjusted my mentality and began to train in practicing the truth and treating Xue appropriately. Sometimes when seeing her get a good grade and win others’ admiration, I would still feel a little distressed, but then I would immediately pray to God to renounce my incorrect thoughts. After practicing this way for some time, I gradually let go of my jealousy and felt more at peace. Later in an English class, Xue gave an incorrect answer to the teacher’s question and looked very embarrassed, but at that time I didn’t take pleasure in it but sincerely wanted to help her, so I calmly told her the right answer.
Now I have emerged from jealousy and my relationship with Xue has improved a lot. And meanwhile, I discovered that Xue has many strengths worthy for me to learn. For example, she is careful and considerate. When others say something that hurt her, she never argues with them but tolerates them. All these strengths are what I lack and should learn.
Later in a final exam, Xue got first place in our class. Sincerely and genuinely, I said to her, “Congratulations!” As soon as she heard this, her eyes glinted with surprise and then a smile blossomed across her face. Seeing this, I also smiled and said in my heart, “Though I’m not as good as you, I no longer envy you!”